22. Memorandum From the Counselor of the Department of State (Sonnenfeldt) to Secretary of State Kissinger1


  • Follow-up to Presidential Breakfast with Jackson, Javits and Ribicoff; Conversation with Perle

As you asked, I called Perle and told him (1) that you had had a further discussion with the President and as a result had asked me to pass on the following: (2) the basic letter would probably be acceptable as revised, (3) the interpretive response would be treated by us as reasonable targets and objectives to shoot for in judging Soviet compliance with the terms of the basic letter, (4) we cannot accept annual re-enactment of Presidential discretionary authority (or waiver authority) but would instead want to rely on annual Presidential findings of compliance or non-compliance plus Congressional findings of non-compliance, in which case the authority would be suspended, (5) both of us should do drafting so that we have texts to work from when the next meeting occurs.

Perle asked whether I had the promised information on the “national security” problem, i.e., what assurances the Soviets would give as to their informing persons with security clearances when they will [Page 60] be permitted to leave. I said I could only say that since the basic letter would probably be acceptable, this also covers the clause dealing with that point. Perle said he had the impression they would be given more specific information concerning Soviet intentions.

Perle stated further that the distinction we were making between the basic letter and the interpretative response would pose problems. The Senators had always regarded these interpretative points as integral to the agreement. I said we had always pointed out the problem with excessive specificity and we would therefore have to make the distinction and regard the interpretations as goals, progress toward which would be part of the annual findings. Perle again said this would be a major problem.

Perle asked whether our position on the waiver had been thought through. Jackson had felt the President’s reaction to annual reenactment had not been considered but instinctive. The point to consider was that it would be easier for the Executive to deal with the Soviets on the basis that new Congressional enactment was required rather than being in a position to have to cut off the authority by Executive action. I said for the Soviets this concept was unacceptable since it meant that they risked failure by Congress to act positively on extraneous or capricious grounds and therefore never could plan more than a year at a time even if they were in compliance with our understandings. Perle said perhaps the Congressional reenactment could be based solely on Soviet compliance with the agreement, with all other matters excluded. I said I doubted the Soviets would accept even this. I added that under our concept Congress would also have the right of ending the authority and this should meet the point that under some circumstances the Administration might find it awkward to act to end MFN and credits. Perle urged that their arguments be thought through again since they really intended to help the Executive avoid the potentially difficult decision.

Finally, Perle said that Labor had reacted angrily to yesterday’s events and was accusing Jackson of a sell-out. Meany had raged personally at Scoop. This argues for getting the deal wrapped up as quickly as possible before Labor could mount a major campaign. I said the best way to proceed was for both of us to do our drafting promptly on the waiver/discretionary authority matter. He agreed.

I have asked Aldrich to work up alternate versions of the waiver and also the text of a reply to the interpretative statements along the lines I gave to Perle. I will get these to you as soon as I have reviewed them.2

[Page 61]

Scoop may call you directly on the problem with the interpretations.

Do you have anything from Dobrynin on the security clearance cases?

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 9, Trade Bill, August 1974. Eyes Only. Sent for Urgent Attention.
  2. See footnote 5, Document 21.